By James Robert Shaw (The Wind up Geek) and Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
In less than two weeks Victoria will be flooded with people from all over Vancouver Island and the Pacific Northwest with obsessive gaming habits. Cards will be dealt and dice will be rolled but if you think I’m speaking of a convention for those with gambling habits, think again. I speak of gamers, people who show up (sometimes in costume) with their card games (Pokémon, Magic: The Gathering), their table top books (Pathfinder, Dungeons & Dragons), their customized PCs and their mini figurines (Warhammer). And to quote a Trooper song, they’re here for a good time, not a long time.
And when you convention hop on a budget it is important to maintain your energy levels with some nourishing food. Cheap is good too. Presented to you is James and Ed’s list of top eats.
James’ Top 3
Sam’s Deli and Bistro
805 Government St
Since 1972 Sam’s has been providing good food to both the locals and visitors of our fair city. You can find delicious inexpensive meals in the form of sandwiches, salads, soups and muffins. And for a gamer looking for something sinful, Sam’s even has tempting desserts.
You can view their menu here.
A22 – 633 Courtney Street
Uchida is a no brainer if you are desiring some really good Japanese fusion cuisine and you don’t want to spend a lot of money. Though their hours of operation are limited they have the benefit of gluten free options on their menu to make up for it. There is also daily specials and they are located less than two short blocks from the Victoria Conference Centre.
Le Petit Dakar
711 Douglas St
Le Petit is the closest place you’ll find for a North American breakfast (across the street from GottaCon). Le Petit serves from their menu a mix of African cuisine options with North American regulars (pizza, soups, salads, wraps, and paninis).
Bintou Toure is the head chef and owner. She is very welcoming and will make you feel at home in her establishment.
Sushi Plus (766 Yates St) – Although the food is average at best, the prices for westernized Japanese cuisine is extremely cheap. It’s about five blocks away, so that’s the only caveat.
The service is excellent and the place feels cozy. A bonus is the restaurant is next door to a video game shop, a movie theatre and across the street from a table top gaming shop.
Fresko Cafe Pizzeria (642 Yates St) – This is a place to find a really cheap breakfast ($3.95 for eggs, sausages and toast) the decor is nothing special but oddly enough this is where people from various walks of life frequent. Bonus: This business is one block away from a gamer’s hub.
Ed’s Top 3
Although the Fairmont prefers that gamers buy from their service menu, they really must locate the order desk closer to the convention and get their free wifi working. That technical detail was a not so pleasant memory from last year. Hopefully that will be fixed this year but if not, I’ll be going elsewhere to find free wi-fi to get caught up with the rest of the world. At least the Liberty Cafe and Deli (708 Douglas) has decent coffee, but it’s not a place I’d get a snack in. I’d rather hit either Mirage Coffee (817 Government St.) or Awesome Organic Coffee (717 Douglas St.).
As I recall, I’ve seen gamers bring junk food from Burger King and while this place is the best out of the three major chains, I know where to find better. I’d rather sneak up two blocks or more to hit these establishments:
1008 Blanshard St.
For the extra price, the gourmet burgers offered here will easily fill anyone up. There’s no need to buy more than one! They have a good variety of meats to offer (including lamb) and plenty of extra toppings that can turn a simple burger into the Eiffel Tower. It worth the walk to seek them out, and relax for a spell. The only thing that’s a miss here is the service. There are days where the waitresses do not do much. They don’t interact with the customers. When doing take-out, that’s not a concern.
Plus, who doesn’t love poutine? The fries here are very good and they go well with gravy since they’re made right. As a simple bonus, they are two types: the traditional and flavourful! Who doesn’t love black pepper over their fries and have it drizzled with truffle oil?
La Fiesta Cafe
G-12, 1001 Douglas St.
I enjoy coming to this place for their burritos and mexi-fries. The former is large and filling, described by James as a pig in a blanket, and the latter is a guilty pleasure. They must have borrowed from KFC’s secret mix of spices to really make them oh so delectable! Also, these potato bites are a great value for its money. The bonus for this place is that they are open in the late hours of the night!
However, it must be noted that there is a Honduran place further up the block called Hernande’z. They offer up cheap bites and hopefully they still have the 5 for $5 soft taco deal still going. I can easily wolf down $15 worth because they are quick bites than filling bites. But at least their burritos come flying fast and furious when needed. They close at 7pm, however…
The Noodle Box
818 Douglas St.
This take out service also allow diners to eat in but I recommend against it. Quite often, I find the music painfully loud and when that’s coupled with the noise from woks in the kitchen, carrying a conversation is not possible. When gamers are simply seeking out a meal on the go and are willing to wait (it takes between 10-20mins to cook up an order), any location is tough to beat. I just have issues with this particular Douglas Street location which I affectionately call “The Dungeon.”
For dragon-bashers, that should not be an issue. The meals are fresh and delectable when the cooks are not rushed to churn out an appetizing product.
Empire Donuts will have to be remiss in not to have a table running during this convention. They’ve catered Cherry Bomb Toys’ Ultimate Hobby & Toy Fair and I can never resist these sugary delights. I can only hope that they will be present and if they are, the treats they offer will keep me up and going for the entire duration of GottaCon.
This article was originally published on the Two Hungry Blokes blog.